Camryn Hartley sits quietly in the coffee shop, her shy demeanor broken by a genuine smile. I introduced myself to her and we sat down for a chat. I quickly warmed to her sweet nature and enjoyed just talking with her. Before I knew it, we were completely off track from the purpose of the conversation and we had to focus to stay on task.
Camryn descends from a long line of St. Augustine natives. Her family’s name and some history about them (the Fagen family) can be found in the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum. Her great-grandfather was a shrimper and her grandmother was also born in St. Augustine. Camryn’s pride in her family’s long ties with the nation’s oldest city is evident not only in her words and tone but also in her philanthropic endeavors.
In sixth grade, Camryn, like every other citizen of St. Johns County, started hearing about “the 450th” as if it were a character in a play or TV show. One day, a family friend mentioned an organization called the Young Ambassadors and suggested Camryn apply. She did and was accepted, thus embarking on a 5-year commitment of time, effort, and education. As an Ambassador, Camryn made monthly trips to the historic section of St. Augustine, learning about the city’s history, taking behind-the-scenes tours of various attractions, and participating in major events throughout the 5-year process. The goal of the program was to instill civic pride in the youth and foster in them a strength of character that would help them become strong leaders of the future.
This was not Camryn’s first involvement in charitable work. She has been helping others in some capacity for most of her life, whether it was with her church youth group locally, traveling to other states on religious retreats that coincided with missions, or simply getting involved in events around town. When I asked Camryn who was her inspiration, she instantly responded, “My mom.” Her mom has led by example for Camryn and her three siblings (of which she is the oldest) their entire lives. Camryn clearly relates to her mom’s humanitarian heart and looks to continue that tradition in her own life.
A 2017 Nease High School graduate, Camryn currently studies at St. Johns River State College while she prepares to attend the University of Central Florida next January. Her goal? To become a chiropractor, like her father. When I asked her why she chose to be a chiropractor, Camryn stated she has been diagnosed with scoliosis and has had many treatments for the disease over the course of her short life. This personal experience has made her wish to help others similarly affected by the condition.
While helping others just seems to come naturally to Camryn, she does have some soft spots in her heart. In eighth grade, she participated on a mission trip that traveled to an inner city area where she, along with other teens, worked with children in underserved areas. She loved working with those children whose joy and excitement was contagious. It is an experience she would enjoy repeating.
Camryn’s propensity for charitable work won’t be coming to an end anytime soon either. After she graduates from chiropractic school, she would like to use her education and experience to help others, whether it is internationally or here in the U.S. Either way, it looks like Camryn Hartley’s star has just begun to shine.
Photography by Rob Futrell.